History comes to life in one-woman act

Michele LaRue brought her performance of Gettysburg: One Woman’s War to Midland College in February and gave students and faculty a taste of theater and 1900s American literature. LaRue presented her one actor performance of three chapters of Elsie Singmaster’s 1913 book.She also presented The Story of an Hour, a short story by Kate Chopin, during a talk back session for the audience to ask question about both performances.

LaRue did dramatic readings from the first, middle and last chapters of Gettysburg: July the First, The Battleground and Mary Bowman. The three chapters follow the experiences of the fictional character Mary Bowman before and after the Battle of Gettysburg. The story chronicles her change from a young mother whose husband is a soldier in the Civil War, to a widow and finally, an old woman. Gettysburg was written in a time when there had been no serious wars recently and most Americans had not experienced a major conflict, LaRue said. What Singmaster didn’t know was that WWI would start a year later.

LaRue studied four books in addition to Gettysburg when developing her performance. Firestorm at Gettysburg: Civilian Voices June – November 1863 by Jim Slade and John Alexander, Days of Darkness: Gettysburg Civilians by William G. Williams, Soldiers Blue & Grey by James I. Robinson and Heart Language: Elsie Singmaster and Her Pennsylvania German Writings by Susan Colestock Hill were all consulted to add depth and realism to the context of LaRue’s performance.

The Story of an Hour is a story of a woman who receives the news that her husband was killed in a train accident. The short, 10 minute story tells of her reaction and feelings towards the news and the effect of an unexpected turn of events. LaRue earned her degree in acting from the University of Kansas and moved to New Jersey, where she worked with the East Lynne Theater Company mentoring under the late Warren Kliewer. LaRue now tours nationwide performing a variety of around 30 one-person act readings.

MC has hosted LaRue twice. She has previously performed The Yellow Wallpaper and The Rib Speaks Out at MC. LaRue is a member of the Actors’Equity Association and the SAG- AFTRA and is a writer and editor for Drama Desk, an organization of New York drama critics.For more information on booking and performances, visit michelelarue.com or email ruedelarue@aol.com.

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